In the midst of an America where politics is increasingly ruled by lobbyists and big corporate interests, few people will be shocked to learn that the soda industry has vowed to fight Philadelphia's new soda tax.
The tax, which was passed last Thursday by a vote of 13-4, will add 1.5 cents per ounce to the cost of most sugared and diet beverages sold in Philadelphia. Reports from Mayor Jim Kenney's office suggest that revenue from the new measure will go towards funding Philadelphia's public schools, and is expected to amount to $91 million each year.
According to FoodNavigator-USA, however, the American Beverage Association retained the services of Kline & Specter law firm to fight the soda tax shortly after it was passed. Shanin Specter, a founding partner at the firm, says, “This tax is illegal because it violates the Pennsylvania constitutional requirement of uniformity of taxation and because a local government doesn’t have the power to impose a sales tax when the Pennsylvania legislature already has imposed a sales tax.”
In addition to citing legal reasons to repeal the law, the soda industry association also highlighted the tax’s waning popular support among Philadelphia residents. While only 44 percent of voters opposed the measure three months ago, a recent poll suggests that 58 percent of voters are now in opposition to the soda tax. It should be noted, however, that the American Beverage Association was responsible for commissioning the more recent poll.
Despite the opposition, many individuals and organizations are still hailing the new soda tax as landmark legislation, and expect the measure to influence policy nationwide. According to Quartz, Philadelphia’s soda tax “is proof that taxes on sugary drinks can win substantial support outside super-liberal enclaves.”
Keep your eyes and ears open in the coming days to see whether or not the soda industry will be able to challenge the law, and what the outcome could potentially mean for the rest of the country.